Belgian racer Stoffel Vandoorne is preparing for what could be his final four Grands Prix as a Formula 1 driver, his reputation damaged as he closes out a disappointing chapter with McLaren.
… one that will see him being replaced by young gun Lando Norris.
It’s a heartbreaking situation, given the potential shown by the 26-year-old behind the wheel – firstly, on debut in 2016, when he replaced an injured Fernando Alonso in Bahrain…
… outqualifying 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, and scoring a point for 10th; a performance the team applauded.
AUDIO QUOTE (English) MARK TEMPLE,
RACE ENGINEER, McLAREN:
“He drove a very mature race, didn’t make any mistakes, didn’t get tangled up in any crashes or tangles with other drivers - but at the same time was overtaking cars, taking positions when he needed to. Really good, it was very good.”
His standout race confirming what many had seen on track in the junior categories, raising expectations for his full-time debut in 2017.
Prior to F1, Vandoorne was a multiple champion in F4 Eurocup, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, and GP2 – the forerunner to Formula 2. Vandoorne owning records there on total poles, wins and points.
But, the Belgian has been consistently outqualified by teammate Alonso, who has been ahead at all 17 races this year and 22-straight extending back to Malaysia last season.
And, to make matters worse, Vandoorne’s last top-10 result was secured in Azerbaijan in April, with just two points for ninth, taking his total to eight. Alonso, however, scored at nine of 17 events for a 50 point haul.
… all while dovetailing his F1 drive with a full-time LMP1 seat with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship.
Vandoorne, however, will now have a chance to rebuild his career in Formula E, joining Mercedes specialist team HWA from next year.
But the Belgian naturally heads to Austin hoping to go out on a high in F1, as he prepares for the next chapter of his career.